Twitter Defector Earlier this week, Glenn Reynolds, known online as Instapundit, published an op-ed in USA Today about why he recently quit Twitter. He didn’t …

Like: On Blogs in the Social Media Age – Study Hacks – Cal Newport

This fits in well with my earlier post.

H/T: John Philpin

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This is Part 3 of a series.  Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

In Part 1, I mentioned RSS feed readers and linked to resources to help you find one.  In Part 2 I talked about blog platforms.  Now we put together a simple social network.

Feed Readers

RSS Feed Readers:  These are the backbone of  your new web social network.  Blogs create RSS feeds. WordPress creates RSS feeds for both Posts and Comments.  When you subscribe to a RSS feed with your feed reader you will start getting updates for new posts (or comments) on subscribed feeds.  You can read the original post and you can read comments if you want.  You can go to the original post on your own and comment.  In short you have a conversation going just like Facebook.

It may seem cumbersome at first but you will quickly figure out shortcuts like letting your browser remember your name and email address.

The RSS Feed Reader lets you customize your timeline in ways Facebook and Twitter would never let you do.  You have control of your timeline – and you set the priorities.

If you are leaving Facebook or Twitter, get your friends to sign up for or download a good feed reader and subscribe to your feed and the feeds of others in your group of friends who might also be establishing their own blogs.

Steps

  1. Get your own feed reader.
  2. Get your friends to get a feed reader.
  3. Subscribe to each others’ feeds.
  4. Read and comment freely.
  5. As you discover other blogs you like outside of your circle, subscribe, read and comment freely.

WordPress Reader:  WordPress.com has it’s own feed reader called, wait for it, WordPress Reader!  It’s a very attractive feed reader that automatically comes with every WordPress.com account whether you establish a blog or not.  This is a very user friendly feed reader and blog discovery/recommendation engine and worth exploring as a feed reader option.

Crossposting

Crossposting:  I also recommend you crosspost to at least Twitter.  Twitter can act as a feed reader for those friends that for whatever reason can’t make the transition to using a feed reader.  And they can comment there too.  Twitter also lets new people discover you and your writing.  Your original posts remain on your blog so you still control your archives.

It does not hurt to crosspost to as many social networks as is appropriate.

Having Multiple Blogs?

You can have multiple blogs.  You may have a dormant specialized blog that you want to revive, plus start a generalist, personal, everything blog.  I would find having one single topic blog too limiting.

If you are new to this I strongly recommend starting with a generalist blog and write about whatever is on your mind.

Me? I have 3 blogs:

  1. Micro blog on Micro.blog.  I use this for short posts to both the Micro.blog and Twitter social networks because it’s so slick and fast.
  2. My Web Presence (you are here) on self hosted WordPress.
  3. A specialized self hosted WP blog.

Remember, networks and networking, are human creations for humans.  If you engage your readers and more importantly engage yourself, that is all that matters.  I think blogging is a less toxic environment to do that from.

 

 

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This is Part 2 in a series.  Part 1 is here.

In Part 1 I made the case that Facebook and Twitter had become toxic places and I suggest that blogging, micro blogging and long form blogging (either or both) on your own blog was a better choice

Here in Part 2 I’m going to recommend 3 blogging platforms as good places to get started.  I’m also going to make the case for going to the added expense of buying your own domain.  You can investigate each.

Three Best Blogging Platforms

  1. Micro.blog – $5 per month, charged monthly, gets you a micro + long form + photo blog. Bring your own domain and you can use it, although it is not required.  No ads. No tracking. No selling your private information to third parties. Micro.blog has it’s own social network.  You also have the option to cross post to Twitter, Medium, Linkedin, Tumblr, Mastodon. Inclusive.  Every time you start a new post to the social network a new blog entry is automatically made.  It’s very easy to move your content to or from Micro.blog to WordPress, especially if you have your own domain.  This means you are not locked in. Example: Manton.org is a blog on Micro.blog
  2. WordPress.com – Free with ads on a subdomain (ie. MYBLOGNAME.wordpress.com) $4 per month, charged annually, to use your own domain (ie. myblogname.com) and get rid of ads. WordPress.com gives you a lot for both free and paid versions.  You can set it up to cross post to Twitter, Linkdin, Tumblr, Facebook (post to FB Page only), G+ (being discontinued by Google).  WordPress was designed for long form blog posts.  You can micro blog and photo blog from it but posting updates is not quite as fast and easy as Micro.blog.
  3. Self Hosted WordPress – This requires more experience of an intermediate level.  You must have your own domain.  What I recommend is you get your own “C-Panel” type hosting account, which will give you a easy setup wizard to install your own instance of WordPress blogging script. Self hosting gives you the most control.  If you like to arrange things “just so” self hosting gives you thousands of plugins which can add capabilities to your blog.  Self hosting WordPress costs only a little more than Micro.blog or WordPress.com but it is a bit more to learn. Ramblinggit.com is a self hosted blog.

Why These 3?

There are dozens of blog platforms but the reason I chose these three is that you can move your content easily between the 3, especially if you use your own domain. One big reason to post from your own blog is keeping control of your own content.

Micro.blog

If you are coming from Twitter or Instagram Micro.blog will feel comfortable.  MB is very good with Tweet-sized posts and posting photos.  You can do long form posts too.  There are many iOS apps for MB.  Android, Windows 10 and Linux users will need to use the web browser to access and post which works quite well.  If you just want to write, short or long form, and hate being bothered with the blogging platform itself Micro.blog is a good choice.  MB only charges your credit card monthly so there is no lock-in.  If you don’t like it you can move to a WordPress option.

WordPress.com

If you are coming from Facebook and most often write longer posts then you should consider WordPress.com on your own domain as a place to start.  You have to pay a year in advance so there is lock-in, but you can use that year to blog, grow your readership and learn how to use basic WordPress. At the end of that year you can decide to stay or move to either Micro.blog or self hosted WordPress.

About 25% of websites are using some form of WordPress.

Self Hosted WordPress

Learning wise it’s not a huge transition to self hosted WP.  There are more steps but it is far more capable.  This is something to graduate to from WordPress.com or if you already have past experience with other self hosted blogging platforms. A lot of people had blogs 10 or 15 years ago and gave them up for Facebook and Twitter.

Using Your Own Domain

Two reasons to use your own domain:

  • You establish your own address or home if you will, on the Internet.  You own the domain it is like a permanent address that stays the same no matter what host you are on.
  • Your hyperlinks will not change. So if somebody has bookmarked one of your posts or linked to it on their own site the link will not be broken even if you move.

You register your own domain through a registrar like Godaddy or Hover.  Buying a domain is a good first step before shopping for a hosting platform.  I like to keep domain registration always separate from my hosting.

Don’t feel limited to getting a *.com domain.  In the old days individuals often used *.org to represent a personal blog because it was less commercial sounding.  *.info, *.blog, *.name, *.me and a host of others can also be used.

I may do followup posts giving more detail on each option but this will get you started investigating each one.  If you have questions feel free to post them in the comments below. I will answer.

Part 3: Creating the Blog Network continues the series.

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The Problem: Populism and Toxic Social Networks

 

Social media platforms are the perfect places to deny nuance in favour of extreme opinions – and we are hooked on them, says author Jamie Bartlett

Source: Why is populism booming? Today’s tech is partly to blame | Jamie Bartlett | Opinion | The Guardian

From my own experience, it is nearly impossible to have a calm, rational, courteous discussion with dissenting opinions on either Facebook or Twitter.  They either become echo chambers filled with yes men and women or nasty fighting street mobs or sick stage platforms for those who revel in being easily offended.  In every way they are toxic. You should not be immersing yourself in toxins of outrage, indignation, fear and snark every day.  It’s not normal, it’s not healthy.

Is Blogging a Better Alternative?

I’m not talking about all of us launching political blogs. I’m talking about reigniting our independent spaces once again. Turning up the volume on our individual voices and real-life stories, sharing our values…creating an alternative to the mass media (now social media) messages and memes that keep floating to the top.

Source: Can blogs rebuild America?

 

I think the answer is Yes.  With your own blog you have control, you set the agenda, you create your own independent space, you make the Web the social network, uncontrolled by corporations and unmonitored by advertising tracking.  At first, coming from FB and Twitter, some of your old habits of ranting and trolling, might carry over to your blog.  You start off still filled with the toxins of those places.  But over time, away from the mobs, you start to detox – you rediscover your calmer more reasoned, nuanced and measured voice.

My Case for the Everything Blog

AKA personal blog or web presence.  These are blogs that generally represent you.  This blog, ramblinggit.com is one example.  Over at my directory at Indieseek.xyz, these give me fits because they defy categorization and they are hard to write a description for unless I am a long time reader.  But regardless, these blogs represent your voice.  Each post is about something that interests you.  All my failed attempts a blogging from well over a decade ago where because I tried to make my blogs too specialized.  With a personal blog, it’s about whatever is on your mind.  Each post is not the definitive answer, rather, it’s you thinking out loud.  Your thoughts will change over time and that’s fine, because the blog represents the journey of your thinking.

So, I highly recommend you start with a blog that represents you with no agenda.  Write about what interests you.

First Steps

Get yourself a RSS feed reader if you don’t already have one.  Personally, I use Inoreader.  Equally important get your friends to start using a news feed reader too, because when you start blogging you want your non-blogging friends to follow you!

It also helps to subscribe to blogs and see what other bloggers are doing and to be exposed to diverse voices.

Further Reading

IndieWeb generation 4 and hosted domains

The way out

Breaking up Facebook is up to us

Academic Blogging: Why Blog?

 

I’ll probably make this into a series of articles, outlining what i think are the best blogging option for you to choose so stay tuned for followups.

Part 2 is here.

This was also posted to
/en/blogging.

 

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Bookmark: the federation – a statistics hub

The Federation refers to a global social network composed of nodes that talk to each other. Each of them is an installation of software which supports one of the federated social web protocols.

Site shows the different social network scripts that can federate and statistics to how many instances of each script are federated.

Mastodon seems to be the most mature script offering.  The others are in various states of development and adoption as social platforms.  What is interesting are the scripts that are moving beyond being mere copies of either Facebook or Twitter and adding their own features.

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This is a follow on of: Let Us Build a New Web, so you might want to start with that.

Here I want to talk about expanding beyond a static site or just a blog.  For most of these I think I would probably also have a blog just because it’s easy to post updates and announcements on one.

Website Ideas:

Wiki – if you have used Wikipedia then you already have used a wiki.  Wiki’s are very good for collaborative websites.  You can build a knowledge base  with a wiki. You might not need a blog if you have a wiki.  Wiki’s are best for making vast globs of sprawling information able to be found through the wiki’s site search and hyperlinks.

You can use one for group journal type role play.  I have always wanted to use a wiki for world building for table-top RPG’s like D&D, CoC, Metamorphosis Alpha and/or Traveler.

Knowledge Base – a KB is great for making a detailed manual.  You see a lot of knowledge bases used in software support.  Here is an example for WSNLinks.

So if you have some detailed, step-by-step knowledge you want to share, a knowledge base might be perfect.

Some KB ideas: how to paint RPG miniatures, naval miniatures wargame rules,  table-top RPG rules manual, any kind of howto guide.

Directory – I’ll talk about two variants, there are more but I’ll stick with two for now.  1. Links Directories and 2. Business Directories.  Links Directories are collections of hyperlinks to websites (ie. Yahoo started out as a links directory.) Business Directories, may or may not have hyperlinks, but they generally list the name, address, phone number and hours of operation of a business.  Most include a map showing the business location (ie. Yelp, and the online Yellow Pages.)

  1. Links Directory – this could be something as simple as using a directory for hosting your own bookmarks.  (ie. back in the day I knew someone who had a “Cool Directory” which was anything he thought was cool.  Basically his bookmarks.)  Make a topical directory, links to websites about a topic you are passionate about. (A cause, hobby, science fiction, anime, comics, etc.)  I do think that a blog compliments a directory well.  It gives the directory owner a voice.
  2. Business Directory – these make perfect local directories, their strength is they can list bricks and mortar businesses that do not have a website.  These can also be used as restaurant review sites.  I always thought a directory of weird old tourist attractions would be cool.

Forums – forums are an old school social network.  For niche sites they can be perfect for like minded people to have in depth discussions. One advantage a forum has over social networks with moving timelines, a post or a reply, much like email, will sit there waiting for you until you return.  So maybe you only visit once a week, all activity will be there waiting for you.

Most hosting accounts have a couple of free forums scripts ready to deploy at the touch of a button.  I like SimpleMachines forum the best. YMMV.  If your community thrives and becomes big you can move up to something like Invision Community.

The down side of forums are they are very hard to get started.  They work best when you and a few friends decide beforehand you need one.  Otherwise, start a blog on the topic first, attract a following and then ask your followers if they would be interested in a forum for more chat.

For almost all the above I think you should have a blog.  It is always a good way to reach out by syndicating to social networks.  You can mix and match all the different scripts described above whatever works for you.  Again if all you need is X number of pages and then your topic is exhausted just make a static site.  Do it for you. Do what pleases you.

If you have ever had the yen to build a website the above can give you some ideas.  Feel free to comment if you have ideas of your own or questions.

This was also posted to
/en/web.

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Masto.host has fully managed Mastodon hosting starting at 5 Euros a month.

Over the long run this is bad news especially for Twitter.  This is turnkey hosting, all you have to do is work the admin panel.  I  think we a crossing a threshold here in social networks and breaking silos.

The problem with Mastodon are that the weaknesses of Twitter remain, it is too easy to have pile-ons, mobs etc.  And so much depends on how well the Admins of each instance manage these things.  Plus there will be a lot of churn.

But with all that said a lot of small groups (including fringe groups) can have their own social network and it’s affordable.

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In Reply to:  Manton Reece – The way out

I think Manton nailed the big picture on this one pretty good.

I think we should consider forums again too.

Smaller social networks: Many people are looking for “the next Twitter”, but it’s not enough to replace Twitter with a new platform and new leadership. Some problems are inevitable when power is concentrated in only 2-3 huge social networks…

I’m going to put a plug in here for the lowly forum as part of the solution for smaller social networks.  A forum can cover topic specific threads much better than any social network I have seen.  Don’t discount them because they are old school.  Forums are not perfect, but they are a good, if not the best, tool for a narrow niche social network, until we can invent something better.

As big general topic networks, yeah Micro.blog, blogs and Mastodon are better.

As Manton says there has been a lot of talk about social networks recently.  I wish we were talking about forums more in these discussions as part of the solution.   Blogs and forums.

 

 

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#search engines #social networks #silos #indieweb

I hear a lot of people wanting the social network silos (mainly Facebook and Twitter) to go away.  I too want them to go. Eventually.  But before they do, I want to examine some things in this little essay.

Some Good Things that the Silos Did

Search: Facebook and Twitter punched a hole in the Google search monopoly.  Before these social networks, Google and Google alone dictated what you would find on the Web. And you did the finding through Google.  With, first Twitter and later Facebook, suddenly you didn’t need Google to find stuff on the Web.  Suddenly a little obscure website could become famous without or in spite of Google.  If you really sit down and think about it, that is no small thing.

Moreover, that hole in Google (plus Google’s bad record on privacy) gave smaller search engines just enough breathing room to try and become established (ie. Duckduckgo, Qwant, Mojeek.)

Web Advertising:  Again, before Facebook and Twitter, Google had a lock on both search advertising and display advertising.  Facebook in particular opened that up. Suddenly, sellers had an alternative place for ad campaigns besides something owned by Google.  If you are not selling stuff this means nothing to you, but if you are in business, large or small, it means a lot.

Traffic:  Posting on Facebook and Twitter can drive a lot of traffic to your website or blog.  Syndication (crossposting) is just another way of posting.  I’m convinced that a whole new generation has grown up that really does not remember the times before Facebook, Twitter and the other social network silos.  I can see it by their actions and inactions.  They don’t know how to get traffic besides syndicating to Facebook and Twitter.  What happens if those two cut off syndication?  What  happens if everybody leaves FB and Twitter so nobody reads your posts?

See, right now as a blogger, I don’t really need Google traffic.  I have Indieweb webmentions, Twitter and other social networks for traffic.  But if Twitter goes down or walls itself off, it is going to be lean pickings for visitors.

My biggest fear, is that if Facebook and Twitter suddenly crumble, we will go right back to having Google control everything.  By that I mean Google will control both traffic and discovery on the Web.

Yes it won’t be quite as all pervasive as it was before, at least as long as Bing sticks around and does not jump the shark.  Indieweb stuff is good but still a tiny niche (heck blogs are a small niche).  Smart things are being worked on, experimented with, new kinds of automated directories, new innovative webrings, – all discovery tools but they are not ready yet, that and nobody among the public know how to use them.  Things like RSS, which is a good source of repeat traffic, are experiencing a revival, but again this is just a small segment.  Given time I think RSS will be big but it ain’t there yet.

Google is a silo too. And I can tell you Google is part of what sucked all the fun out of Web 1.0.  Facebook and Twitter were not even around.  It was Google. And living under Google dominance is no fun.  Right now the Facebooks and the Twitters are still around so word can spread without Google.  It’s a rare opportunity but you better hurry.

Seriously, if FB and Twitter unravel quickly, how do we counter the Google silo?  Ideas?

 

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